How Long Can You Survive a Disaster Without Your Meds?

This morning we ran a two related story in Diabetes News Hound about having diabetes during a natural disaster.

The first talked about how people with diabetes were some of the hardest hit by Hurricane Katrina in 2005. The article even noted that the event took up to four months off the lifespan of some of those in New Orleans. You can check out the full post here: Hurricane Katrina Victims With Diabetes Among Hardest Hit

The second article talked about what to do to prepare for a natural disaster if you have diabetes. We summarized a blog post that, at times, seemed a little too focused on “gloom and doom” scenarios. You can check out the full post here: Diabetic Tips For Surviving a Natural Disaster

However, it did raise important questions: Have you taken any steps to make sure you can manage your diabetes during a disaster and how long can you live without your diabetes supplies?

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Thanks, Chris.

Good points in the article, but it may not be realistic for many of us. My insurance doesn’t allow me to stock pile supplies. I’m allowed a certain number of strips, syringes & insulin per month. Getting an Rx for more per month didn’t work except for syringes & I couldn’t afford it anyway. Can’t buy extra out of pocket in the event of a disaster.

You know, something that is never talked about… a lot of Katrina “victims” landed in shelters (at least here in the central texas area) without their meds or insulin, but with 2 or 3 cartons of cigarettes (cartons, not packs)… I can’t help but wonder if a certain degree of “need” following a natural disaster doesn’t stem at least in part from irresponsibility. I know that there are a LOT of people that do legitimately need help, but if you show up at a shelter with 3 cartons of cigarettes, but no insulin… and you need your insulin to survive, what does that really say about your priorities? A lot.

I know that for me, my diabetes supplies would be the FIRST thing I grabbed in an emergency… I always have enough “stuff” on hand to be prepared… I wouldn’t die within a few days or make myself seriously ill by “forgetting” to grab what I need.

It’s not really a quesiton of priorities, it’s a matter of addiction. As a former smoker I can empathize.

Sure, you need your insulin or your metformin to survive, but if you don’t take it you’re not going to be in pain. Not acute pain, anyway.

If you’re a nicotine junkie, on the other hand, you’ll feel the effects of withdrawal within an hour or less and you would do virtually anything to relieve the gnawing cravings. Even trade your insulin for a pack of cigarettes.


i’m a hoarder. ever since my diagnosis [less than 2 years ago] when i was sent home from the hospital with a prescription for one vial of insulin and had to find a doctor, get an appointment, get a prescription sent to my mail order pharmacy and then wait an agonizing 11 days for the pharmacy to SHIP the prescription and begging my doctor for samples because my insurer wouldn’t refill the single vial prescription - my endo has overprescribed and i’ve developed a rotating stock system.
also i’m in a clinical trial that includes extra test strips.
so… i think if i used extra medical adhesive on my infusion sites and taped them down [i’m prone to not being sticky] and didn’t indulge in any unecessary carbs, i might make it 3-4 months.

I’ve never given it much thought, honestly.